PRESS RELEASE: Councilmember Ryu Calls for Ellis Act Reform, Introduces Housing Motions

Los Angeles -- Today, Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu introduced three pieces of legislation to address Los Angeles’ affordable housing crisis. One motion seeks changes to how the Ellis Act is enforced in Los Angeles to limit evictions and increase tenant protections, while another would create incentives to build more middle-income housing. The Resolution calls for increasing the California Renter’s Tax Credit.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

June 19, 2019

 

Contact:

Estevan Montemayor

estevan.montemayor@lacity.org

213.605.4145

Councilmember Ryu Calls for Ellis Act Reform, Introduces Housing Motions

Los Angeles -- Today, Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu introduced three pieces of legislation to address Los Angeles’ affordable housing crisis. One motion seeks changes to how the Ellis Act is enforced in Los Angeles to limit evictions and increase tenant protections, while another would create incentives to build more middle-income housing. The Resolution calls for increasing the California Renter’s Tax Credit.

“We are in a lopsided housing crisis that continues to develop homes for those at the top while ignoring the rest,” Councilmember Ryu said. “This crisis is not only driving low-income and working families into homelessness, it’s also putting middle class Angelenos at risk. This demands urgent action. The motions introduced today seek to expand protections for renters, create more housing for middle-income Angelenos,  and help keep people in their homes.”

The Ellis Act reform motion Councilmember Ryu co-introduced with Councilmember Mike Bonin seeks to protect and support renters, more than 720,000 of whom are severely rent-burdened in Los Angeles County. The state’s Ellis Act, intended to help mom-and-pop property owners get out of the rental business, has been exploited by developers seeking to demolish longtime, rent-controlled rental units to build new market-rate units, luxury units, or high-end condominiums. Since 2001, nearly 25,000 rent-stabilized units in the City of Los Angeles were destroyed under the Ellis Act.

This motion seeks to change how the Ellis Act is enforced in Los Angeles, and recommends increasing the tenant relocation assistance developers are required to pay tenants evicted under the Act. It also looks to boost the affordable housing replacement requirement, which currently requires new buildings to include 20 percent affordable housing, and bars landlords who evict tenants under the Ellis Act from receiving density bonuses and other incentives  constructing new buildings. Furthermore, the motion instructs the Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID) to report back on options for acquiring rent-stabilized properties that are at-risk for Ellis Act evictions and demolitions, so the City can protect these units from unscrupulous developers.

“Our affordable housing crisis is deep, and Ellis Act evictions are a big part of that, causing the loss of tens of thousands of rental units,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin. “We need to examine any and all tools and ideas to address the harmful repercussions of the Ellis Act, and this legislation is an important first step in the process, which will offer information and guidance for how we can best protect renters from unfair evictions."

The second housing motion Councilmember Ryu introduced today seeks to spur more housing development for middle-income Angelenos. At present, the City’s Planning Department lacks a classification for the middle class and the housing that meets their needs. Middle income Angelenos, despite representing a large swath of the population, received the smallest share of new housing built in the past 5 years, putting even more pressure on an already tight affordable housing market. This motion seeks to support this crucial segment of housing by identifying and creating development incentives specific to middle-income housing.

“We are continuing to build housing for those at the very top while ignoring the rest,” Councilmember Ryu said. “That is not right - and it’s not something trickle-down housing policies will fix. We need incentives not just for low income housing, but housing for teachers, firefighters, recent graduates - the folks who may not qualify for affordable housing, but can’t afford luxury apartments either.”

In the past five years, 91% of housing units constructed in Los Angeles were built for high income earners, according to data from the City’s Planning Department, more than twice as many needed to meet demand. Nine percent of homes built in the same time period were for very low, low, and moderate income Angelenos. Angelenos earning above-moderate income saw 73,387 units come online at their income level between 2013 and 2018, while moderate-income Angelenos received the smallest share, 430 units.

Councilmember Ryu also introduced a resolution calling on the state to increase the Renter’s Tax Credit and expand it to all renters who spend more than 30% of their income on rent for a primary residence. At present, only those earning less than $37,768 are eligible for the tax credit. Furthermore, even those who qualify for the credit are eligible to receive only $60 for individuals, and $120 for heads of households. Councilmember Ryu believes in establishing a real tax credit for California renters.

“We provide thousands of dollars in tax breaks to homeowners, while renters only get 60 bucks,” Councilmember Ryu said. “This disparity doesn’t reflect our values, our economic reality, or the needs of most Angelenos. If we want a middle class in Los Angeles, we need to build for it, and we need to protect it.”

Councilmember Ryu also supports statewide reform to the Ellis Act to reduce abuses of the law, including restricting the use of Ellis to property owners who have owned the property for at least five years, limiting the number of times a developer can evict under the Ellis Act per year, and provide all tenants, regardless of age, income or family status a minimum one-year notice of eviction.

Read the Ellis Act Reform Motion here.

Read the Middle-Income Housing Incentive Motion here.

Read the California Renter’s Tax Credit Resolution here.

Find out more about Councilmember Ryu's plan on homelessness here.

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Los Angeles City Councilmember David E. Ryu represents the 4th Council District which includes Griffith Park, Sherman Oaks, Toluca Lake, Hollywood, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Miracle Mile, Hancock Park, Windsor Square, Larchmont and portions of Koreatown and Van Nuys.


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